Fitz-John Porter, Scapegoat of Second Manassas

The Rise, Fall and Rise of the General Accused of Disobedience

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About the Book

One of the darkest days in United States history since Valley Forge was August 30, 1862. On this date the Confederate army smashed the United States army at Manassas, on the outskirts of Washington. To many, including the president and press, it appeared that Washington was all but lost.
The defeat was all the more galling because it was inflicted by a numerically inferior and inadequately equipped Confederate force. Someone, it was assumed, had to be responsible. Union commander Major General John Pope blamed the loss on charismatic and popular Major General Fitz-John Porter, whom he charged with disobedience of orders and shameful conduct before the enemy. A court-martial found him guilty. But was Porter really guilty or did he save the country from an even greater disaster? This book addresses the question of Porter’s guilt or innocence, examining the trial and its aftereffects from several perspectives.

About the Author(s)

Captain Donald R. Jermann served more than 32 years on active duty in the Navy covering World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He also served as a senior executive in the Department of Defense and lives in Laurel, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Donald R. Jermann
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 295
Bibliographic Info: 28 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3930-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5255-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
List of Maps      viii
Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. The Situation in Late August 1862      9
2. The Second Battle of Manassas      20
3. Courts and Courts-Martial      24
4. Charge 1, Specification 1      30
5. Charge 1, Specifications 2 and 3; Charge 2, Specifications 1, 2, and 3      61
6. Charge 1, Specifications 4 and 5      112
7. Pope, Porter, and McDowell      120
8. The Motivation Question      132
9. Summation and Verdict      138
10. The Rehearing      168
11. Grant Intervenes      194
12. Porter After the Verdict      200
13. What Happened to Them      206
14. A Conspiracy to Convict?      216
15. Hero or Villain?      219
16. Who Lost the Second Battle of Manassas?      227

Appendices (listed)      229
Chapter Notes      277
Bibliography      279
Index      281

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The great beauty of his writing is that it flows from one point to the next both easily and logically. Even someone not well-versed in the situation can easily comprehend the meaning. For each aspect of Porter’s downfall and redemption, Jermann explains what happened, why it happened, what it led to and, finally, how Porter’s name was cleared. His book is clearly an excellent work about the drama of Fitz-John Porter’s temporary disgrace and ultimate triumph. By its end, readers will be able to discern whether or not Porter was truly guilty and, if not, who was really to blame for what happened to the Union army at Second Manassas”—Civil War News
  • “Excellent”—On Point
  • “A good read”—Blue & Gray Magazine
  • “Very useful work of reference”—soldierstudies.org.